When the MetroStars revisited what was a disappointing 2004, the club's brain trust came to the conclusion that they needed some veteran leadership to go along with a talented group of younger players.
Enter first Jeff Agoos. Then enter Youri Djorkaeff. And now enter Ante Razov.
Razov became the latest MetroStars veteran Tuesday, when he was traded from the Columbus Crew for forward John Wolyniec and a portion of an allocation.
"When Bob first came in you're typically looking to bring in your veteran leadership and establish your core and sprinkle in some young talent and we've done a very good job in drafting young players," said MetroStars president and general manager Nick Sakiewicz.
"We've kind of done it a little bit in reverse. We've built a core of some of the best young players in the league and now with Youri, Jeff, Amado (Guevara) and adding Ante, we completed making our team better from a veteran leadership standpoint."
Razov started the first five games of the year for the Crew -- his last on April 30 -- but then had a falling out with Columbus coach Greg Andrulis and after coming off the bench as a substitute for two games, didn't dress for the team's next three games. It was clear a move needed to be made.
"The game, I think, is supposed to be played a certain way and approached a certain way and I've been part of the best team in the history of this league and I've seen something good and when I see something that I thought was wrong, I speak up," Razov said. "I'll speak my mind, I'll be brutally honest. I don't know if that's something (Andrulis) wanted to hear."
Razov, 31, will be reunited with his former coach Bob Bradley, as the two won an MLS Cup together in 2000 with the Chicago Fire. Razov is the Fire's all-time leading scorer, having netted 76 goals from 1998-2004. During the Fire's 2000 championship season, Razov posted a career high in goals scored with 18 and scored the game-winning goal in the MLS Cup Final.
In 2003, he was awarded MLS Best XI honors after tallying 14 goals and six assists. A bone spur injury and a subsequent surgery limited Razov to four goals and two assists in 13 games in 2004 before he was dealt to the Crew for former U.S. international Tony Sanneh.
"Ante is a player who sets the bar very high for himself and very high for the team," Bradley said. "He's been in winning situations; he's contributed a great deal to the environment that existed in those situations.
Although he hasn't seen game action in more than a month and hasn't dressed for the last two games, Razov isn't concerned about his fitness.
"I haven't played the last three matches so I'm a little bit behind but I don't think too far," he said. "I played the first five matches so I've been keeping myself in pretty good shape. I've been around for a while so I learned how to take care of myself."
Razov will likely pair with speedy rookie Abbe Ibrahim up top and push Djorkaeff back into an attacking midfield role. And what does the brutally honest Razov think of the MetroStars, which have lost just once in their last six games and host rival D.C. United Sunday at 6 p.m. ET?
"We got a guy (in Djorkaeff) who won a World Cup, European Cup, (played in the) Champions League and there's not too much he hasn't seen. We have a guy in Jeff Agoos who has won only five MLS titles, we have Amado Guevara who was the best player in the league last year and he might be the best player in the league again this year along with Landon (Donovan)," Razov said. "And we have Eddie Gaven, who is one of the promising talents in the game."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.